Bob Sowards and Ben Kern needed no end-of-hole heroism on Thursday to defend their PGA Senior-Junior Tag Team Championship title at PGA Golf Club.
Last year, Sowards of Dublin, Ohio hit a bunker shot on the last hole to claim a two-shot win. On Thursday, Sowards and Kern of Georgetown, Texas, combined for a 9-under 63 on the Wanamaker course to win by three strokes at 31-under 256.
Sowards and Kern hit five of the first seven holes tied for the lead with Judd Gibb of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Darin Fisher of Albia, Iowa, then fell behind when Gibb-Fisher birdied on the ninth hole. But Sowards-Kern added four straight birdies on the back nine to successfully defend his title.
“My partner played amazing today and I just helped him out when I could,” said Sowards, director of PGA instruction at Kinsale Golf & Fitness Club in Powell, Ohio, who won the championship. PGA Senior Stroke Play last week.
“We have the same type of personality and the same type of game. None of us talk a lot. He’s one of the best players in the country and I think I’m pretty good too.
Kern, who was PGA Professional low at the PGA Championship at Bellerive in 2018, said he asked Sowards to play with him three years ago, but Sowards already had a partner. They were partners at the PGA Cup, so this pairing seemed inevitable.
“We both have a simple game,” Kern said. “We rarely make big mistakes. We’re going to make a lot of starts, and when we’re sure, we’re going to go back and forth with a lot of birdies. We always covered for each other.
They will team up again for the PGA Four-Ball Stableford Team Championship from January 30 to February 30. 1 at the PGA Golf Club.
Gibb and Fisher led after an opening 60 and took a two-shot lead in the final round. They hit the par-5 seventh, but added just three birdies in the round and bogeyed a costly par-4 15th for a 68 that left them at 28-under 259.
The teams of Mark Anderson-Pete Vitiello (66), Andy Brock-Alex Beach (66) and Sonny Skinner-Rob McClellan (67) are tied for third at 26-under 261.
The teams of Joe Summerhays-Bruce Summerhays, who shot the low round Thursday, a 62), and Marty D’Angelo-Travis Johns (66) tied for sixth at 25-under 262.
The PGA Winter Championships are presented by GolfPass and On Location.